5 Artists I Discovered in 2011

When I'm not doing my Clark Kent thing on this blog, I put on my cape and tights so I can review albums as part of the OHN staff. It's a great gig, supremely cool people to work with and readers who don't mind digging deep into longer-form reviews than you normally find online. Plus it exposes me to a lot of music I might not otherwise take the time to check into.
Early last week I posted my Best of 2011 list.  
I feel pretty good about my picks, even though I had to make some tough calls (Kendrick Lamar, Anthrax, and Common could have been on there, but I wanted to keep it short). But the thing about that list is that the way we set things up, it's limited only to albums that came out in the past year. And although there was good music that came out in the past 12 months, that's not always how I discover music. 

I'm getting to an age where it would be perfectly fine for me to settle on a huddled grouping of favorite artists gathered over the years of me listening and playing music -- but I'm pretty glad to say that I still have a healthy appetite for new sounds and artists.

Not that I live on the leading edge or anything, but I want to see what else is out there -- find out what (if anything) I'm missing out on. In this new era of social media music sites and on-demand streaming, obviously things have gotten a lot easier in that respect, but when I hear friends or journalists or musicians I like and respect raving about something, it's pretty natural for me to want to check it out.

I also still (for whatever reason) find myself interested and yet baffled by Grammy winners and the names that show up on most other "Best Of" lists. I often complain to a friend of mine that I'll check out the album reviews on the Onion AV Club only to realize that I have never heard of any of the bands they're talking about.
"New music is a young man's game," He'll always say.
And yet, every year it seems I do discover and obsess for a little while over a handful of new things, many of which turn out to not be all that new to begin with. There's so much great music out there that it's easy to miss it the first time around. Better late than never, right?

So here, in no particular order are 5 artists I found this year for the first time that I really dug (that you might like too):
1. Emmure: 

We used to call it the "boom button" -- that switch that some songs have when they kick in to just grab you and shove you back in your seat. There's a lot of interesting new metal out there -- bands like MyChildren MyBride, Revocation, and Skeletonwitch -- but time and time again I kept coming back to Emmure. This is a mosh pit I definitely want in on. 
2. Company of Thieves (the video is longer than the song, not sure what's up with that)

Part Portishead, Part Jeff Buckley, All awesome -- I hate that I wasn't the one that found this band before anyone else. Instead I picked up a thread about it from Chez Pazienza's blog, and was instantly hooked. They have two albums out to date, and both are all kinds of worth your time, but what's really exciting about these guys is just how much richer the second disc is from the first. They're not only good -- they're getting better.
3. Animals as Leaders: 

Tosin Abasi is a beast. Last year I discovered Guthrie Govan's guitar playing and thought to myself, "Really, where else can it go from here?" But man, did I overload on this band this year. It's aggressive, complex, prog-spirited and yet heavy as hell. I could seriously listen to this guy play all day long. 
4. Envy on the Coast: 

During the early part of my time on Tumblr I came across a post where a girl tagged a song by these guys as her "Favorite song to strip to." That alone was worth a listen, but what I found was even better. There's an dusting of emo to these guys (and their fans) that I initially cringed at a bit, but there's such a snarl to the music these guys make that it's easy to find your way past it. Kinda mad they broke up before I even found out about them, but that's how it goes sometimes. 
5. Mastodon: 

I have no idea why I've slept on Mastodon so long. I've known about them for years but just never really took the time to check them out. Then during one of those breaks this year where I had all sorts of music around but somehow everything seemed stale I decided to give their latest album a shot. Several back-to-back listens later I was utterly hooked. Rich guitar lines, lockstep drums, and psychedelic vocals rife with hooks -- if the Phonte and Childish Gambino discs hadn't come along when they did I might still be listening to this 24/7.
So what were the artists that you discovered this year? Not necessarily just new voices from this year -- but just the things you found yourself listening to the most that weren't from your core group of favorites? 
And no, this doesn't count.

[Now Playing:  Tinie Tempah - "Pass Out" ]


Beth said…
I kinda stayed in my own world in 2011 musically...not even sure why...

the only artist I discovered that stayed with me was Warren Dean Flandez...he was on my best of 2011 list on OHN

I hope in 2012 I can discover some new music